New Zealand

Moths can transfer pollen between flowers under experimental conditions

To be considered an effective pollinator, a floral visitor must not only be able to remove pollen but also transfer this pollen to a receptive conspecific stigma. While studies of diurnal pollination are commonplace, our understanding of the effectiveness of nocturnal pollinators is limited largely because of the difficulties of doing these studies at night. As a result of this, the way in which moths transfer pollen between flowers has been understudied globally, despite many authors suggesting they could be significant contributors to pollination.

Species turnover in forest bird communities on Fiordland islands following predator eradications

Recent advances in the control of mammalian predators have begun to reveal interspecific competition as a key driver in the structure of New Zealand forest bird communities once predation pressure is reduced. We present evidence that, when at high densities, South Island robins (Petroica australis) may be responsible for declines in a suite of smaller native and introduced songbird species. Bird surveys undertaken on 47 islands in Breaksea Sound and Dusky Sound, Fiordland, during 1974 to 1986, were repeated on the same islands in 2016 or 2019.

The diets of moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes)

For tens of millions of years the ratite moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes) were the largest herbivores in New Zealand’s terrestrial ecosystems. In occupying this ecological niche for such a long time, moa undoubtedly had a strong influence on the evolution of New Zealand’s flora and played important functional roles within ecosystems. The extinction of moa in the 15th century ce therefore marked a significant event in New Zealand’s biological history, not only in terms of biodiversity loss, but in the loss of an evolutionarily and ecologically distinct order of birds.

South Island high country: let’s get it right this time

New Zealand has a unique opportunity to reshape the future of 1.2 million hectares, or 5% of the country. Since 1990, land clearance and development in the South Island high country have removed large areas of native vegetation, destroying already tenuous endemic species populations, and rare and threatened ecosystems. Important ecosystems and ecological values have been subtly or dramatically degraded through tenure review, discretionary consents, and invasions of plant and animal pests.

When an enemy of an enemy is not a friend: Tri-trophic interactions between kākā, puriri moths and makomako trees

Predators can indirectly structure local plant communities by altering the diversity and behaviour of herbivores. These ‘trophic cascades’ can be seriously disrupted by the local extinction of top predators. They can also be restored by the subsequent re-introduction of top predators by conservationists. Here, we investigated trophic cascades involving kākā, puriri moths and their host trees. New Zealand kākā (Nestor meridionalis, Nestoridae) are large parrots that were extirpated from most of its range in the 20th century.

Rodent detection and monitoring for conservation on islands: gnawed seeds provide reliable indicator of rodent presence

Invasive rodents pose one of the biggest threats to island ecosystems globally. Reliable methods for detecting and monitoring rodent presence are essential for the effective conservation management of islands, but many detection devices fail to attract rodents when natural resources are abundant. Using a toolbox of detection methods is therefore key to detecting rodents as individual rodents vary in their susceptibility to detection devices.

Independent introductions of hedgehogs to the North and South Island of New Zealand

According to the most recent (2005) compendium on the history of the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) in New Zealand, this small insectivorous mammal was first brought from Europe to the South Island in the 19th century. This introduction has been presumed to be the source of hedgehogs that subsequently spread to the North Island. This view was informed by the absence of hedgehogs in the North Island throughout the 19th century and no evidence of direct shipments of hedgehogs from overseas to the North Island.

Diet, population structure and breeding of Rattus rattus L. in South Island beech forest

The diet, population structure and breeding of ship rats (Rattus rattus L.) from Fiordland National Park were assessed from measurements and gut sample analysis of 248 rats trapped between March 2009 and March 2010, following a mast beech seedfall. They consumed many lepidopteran larvae but fewer weta and more vegetative plant matter than in other habitats, as well as beech seed. Birds and mice made up only a relatively small proportion of the diet. A lizard was also confirmed as a prey item of R.

Ecology of orange-spotted geckos (Mokopirirakau “Roys Peak”) in Central Otago and Queenstown-Lakes district

New Zealand’s mountainous environments support unique flora and fauna specially adapted to the extreme cold and harsh conditions of the alpine zone. The orange-spotted gecko (Mokopirirakau “Roys Peak”) is a rare undescribed gecko that is currently known only from the alpine zone of Otago. The species was discovered in 1998 and is only known from the Central Otago and Queenstown-Lakes districts, with populations spanning a ~3000 km2 area.

Shared visions: can community conservation projects’ outcomes inform on their likely contributions to national biodiversity goals?

In New Zealand, as in other developed nations, community-led conservation groups work to maintain and restore ecosystems and conserve indigenous biodiversity. These groups receive support in the form of materials, technical advice and funding from central and local government and non-governmental organisations, who are required increasingly to demonstrate delivery of benefits or conservation returns on investments. However, there is little empirical evidence for the objective evaluation of the effectiveness of community-based programmes in achieving national conservation outcomes.